The Harvest of Death, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, photographer; printed by Alexander Gardner
American, negative July 4, 1863; print 1866
Albumen silver print
7 x 8 11/16 in.
This Photograph made by Timothy H. O’Sullivan is one of the best examples of the new innovative ways in which the primary sources changed in the 19th century. The introduction of photography and later the camera changed the way we see history forever.
This photograph was captured 5-6 July, 1863. Only 48 years after the first photography ever made and the American Civil War was the first major war to be documented using photography.
Like the name “The Harvest of Death” says this photograph captures the war’s toll of death and destruction that happened on one of the biggest battles in the United States History, The Battle of Gettysburg which took place from July 1 to July 3, 1863. Although the caption identifies the men in the photograph as “rebels represented…without shoes” they are probably Union dead.
“During the Civil War, shoes were routinely removed from corpses because supplies were scarce and surviving troops needed them”. The changing name was probably done so that the northern public not to be alarmed that their people were lying in the battlefield without any proper funeral and without shoes.
Even though when this photograph hit the newspapers had a great impact on the American public because shows the grim truth that dying in battle lacked the gallantry often represented in paintings and prints which they were used to thinking that was the truth.
This photograph represents the battle in all its truth, no hidden messages behind to manipulate the public, and is what historians aspire to do. To tell the truth without manipulating it for the future generations.